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12-Way NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB Shootout

By Vincent Chang - 8 May 2007

Gainward & Gigabyte

Gainward Bliss 8600GTS PCX Golden Sample

Legend has it that Gainward's Golden Sample cards have specially handpicked cores capable of extreme overclocking. Whether that is really true is not for us to say but there is no doubt that these cards are definitely overclocked. The latest incarnation is the Gainward Bliss 8600GTS PCX Golden Sample, with a core overclocked to 725MHz and memory modules at 2200MHz DDR. To complement its high clock speeds, Gainward uses a custom two-slot cooler (which has appeared in previous Gainward graphics cards like its Radeon X1950 PRO) with a meshed plastic shroud that's just a natural dust collector. There's also a respectable bundle too, with CyberLink's suite of DVD utilities the main highlight.

It's a Golden Sample card so expectations are higher for this GeForce 8600 GTS from Gainward.

We have seen this design before from Gainward, a large meshed shroud over the quiet dual-slot cooler.

Another characteristic of Gainward - the layout of the components on the board is non-standard.

The complete list of bundled accessories are as follows:-

  • 2 x DVI-to-VGA adaptors
  • 6-pin PCIe Molex power connector
  • 9-pin mini-DIN to Component/Composite dongle
  • Quick installation guide
  • Driver CD
  • CyberLink DVD Solution 4

Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H

The surprise package of the shootout is undoubtedly Gigabyte's entry. The GV-NX86S256H is the only passively cooled GeForce 8600 GTS and uses the company's newest Silent Pipe 3 cooler. It comprises of a massive chunk of metal and heat pipes that covers most of the card and takes up two expansion slots. To our astonishment, Gigabyte has somehow managed to do away with the external power connector found on the GeForce 8600 GTS and rely purely on the PCIe interface for its energy needs. We are uncertain if the removal of an active fan cooler allowed such a move but there seems to be no disadvantage to doing so. In case you're still concerned, this Gigabyte card is actually slightly overclocked out of the box (685MHz core and 2100MHz DDR memory). Additionally, Gigabyte has included an A-list game title - Supreme Commander, together with its own custom overclocking utility, V-Tuner 3. In short, this offering from Gigabyte stands out from the competition for both its hardware and bundle.

When you snag a widely anticipated game title like Supreme Commander, advertise it to the sky like what Gigabyte has done here.

Gigabyte's latest Silent Pipe 3 is shown off for the first time on this GeForce 8600 GTS. It may look chunky but it's passive cooling after all.

Just like its motherboards, Gigabyte has promised to use only solid capacitors on its GeForce 8600 GTS to ensure greater reliability.

What surprised us most about the Gigabyte is its lack of the power connector.

Heat pipes help to conduct heat to the rear, where the fins assist in thermal dissipation.

The complete list of bundled accessories for the Gigabyte graphics card are as follows:-

  • 1 x DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • 9-pin mini-DIN to S-Video/Component dongle
  • Driver CD (including V-Tuner 3)
  • User Manual
  • Supreme Commander (full game)